Are your calls being screened out by an over protective admin? The old saying is that there is more than one way to skin a cat. (My apologies to you cat lovers out there.) Well, over 35 years on the job and you are sure to pick up a thing or two.
The first and most simplest trick is to take advantage of company telephone directories. I love directories because there are no gate keepers to deal with, or explain yourself to. Instead of playing twenty questions, you are gathering valuable information.
Many people who work the phone simply hit zero to be directed to the operator as quickly as possible. The value of the directory is that many times, you will be directed right to the decision maker’s extension. At times you may still be directed to their admin’s line, but often times it will ring right at the extension of the person that you are trying to reach.
A good feature to using directories is if you need to call multiple decision makers at the same company, it gets a little embarrassing to call repeatedly through the same switch board operator. Taking advantage of the directory allows you to contact these people without explaining why you are calling so many people, so often.
Often times a directory will also announce the extension number that you are being directed to. Another good feature is if you reach voice mail instead of the person, you will gain the valuable knowledge of how this person presents himself. If you are calling for Gerard Smith, the recording will clue you in to whether he uses Gerard, prefers Gerry, or possibly uses his middle name, by passing Gerard altogether. Speaking to him in the familiar is always a great way to make him comfortable, but when the only person in the world who calls him Gerard is his mother, it is best to avoid it!
Next, we have the work around trick. If I can’t get through to a person because I am being screened out, I will call and ask the operator to connect me to accounts payable or to shipping. Who ever answers the phone, I immediately say to them, “Gee, I guess they sent me to the wrong place. Could you give me the right extension for Gerard Smith please?”
Most times if you ask nicely and use the person’s first name (if they gave it when they answered), they will take the time to help you. If they do, there is an excellent chance that the internal directory they are using, will give them the decision maker’s extension and not the admin’s. If they find it, ask them to please share it with you in case you need to call back. Write it down for future reference, as they are connecting you. Don’t wait until the call is over or you may not remember it.
When using this technique, pay close attention to the voice pattern and attitude of the person who answered. If you sense any hesitation or reluctance at all, proactively say, “Gee, Joan, this is a real important call. I am sure that Gerard will really appreciate it if you could take just a minute to look it up for me. Thanks so much.” Kill them with kindness and make them feel as if they are doing something important, that will help the company and their co-worker!
Areas not to ask for are Sales, Customer Service and Human Resources. Sales people are always looking for an opportunity to make a sale, so they will question you to death trying to see if they can sell you something. Customer Service people are trained to gather information first, to know how to best serve you. Human Resources people generally are also question askers as well. Perhaps it is because they are so aware of head hunters raiding their employees.
The important thing in voice prospecting is to not become an automaton, mindlessly making call after call without applying a measure of creativity to problems. Use your imagination to side step obstacles. Always ask yourself, why this person should put me through to the person I seek? The answer is your key to unblocking the pathway.